The Wall Street Journal’s Limited-Government Readers

The Wall Street Journal editorial page, usually a strong voice for limited government, was rapped by readers Thursday for positions that didn’t seem to meet that standard.

After the Journal urged President Obama to support the Defense of Marriage Act in order to allow the gay marriage issue “to be resolved democratically by the states,” Michael Weisberg wrote to point out that DOMA “overrides the laws and desires of the states, which have traditionally had jurisdiction in matters of marriage, as one would expect under the federal Constitution.” That’s a point we’ve also made here, and one that seems to confuse many of DOMA’s advocates.

Meanwhile, many readers objected to the Journal’s support for the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (also a point we’ve made in this space). Adam Marcus and Berin Szoka of TechFreedom noted that Census data aren’t as private as we’re promised:

Our government has abused census data to awful effect, most notably in the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, as documented in a Scientific American article in 2007. More recently, the feds violated their express privacy policy by publishing all individual responses to the 1940 Census’s similarly extensive questions—not just aggregated results.

Like Robert L. Umbarger, they also point out that “the Constitution authorizes a census only to apportion congressional representatives,” so the government exceeds its authority when it requires Americans to answer questions on, as the Journal put it, “everything from demographics to income to commuting times.” Lisa Greenman reflects a traditional American suspicion of government:

At worst it is the federal government collecting private, personal data that can be used against its citizens. How ironic this piece was published under the one titled “The President’s Hit List.”

Van Bussmann notes, “Here comes yet another program to solidify government control over our lives. Information begets power.” He unconsciously echoed Sir John Cowperthwaite, the former administrator of the British colony Hong Kong during its rapid rise from poverty, about whom the Journal editorial page wrote in 2006, “One of the better known stories about the undeservedly obscure Cowperthwaite was his refusal to collect economic statistics about Hong Kong during his tenure as Financial Secretary, lest they produce an impulse toward central planning among the bureaucrats.”

It’s good to know that even when the Journal editorial writers are tempted by unwarranted federal programs, their readers are on the case.